Bluder’s Bunch strings together back-to-back victories

BY EVELYN LAU | JANUARY 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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Aggressiveness proved to be the key for the Iowa women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon.

After suffering a season-high four game losing streak, the Hawkeyes (10-10, 3-6) defeated Northwestern (11-7, 3-5), 78-69, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since Dec. 20-22.

“It feels good, especially getting two wins in a row,” sophomore Kamille Wahlin said. “It was great to get a win on the road [at Illinois]. I think it’s going to help our confidence, and we’re just going to try to keep building off a couple of wins.”

Freshman Jaime Printy scored 23 points, Wahlin added 16 points, and freshman Morgan Johnson had 10 points and seven rebounds.

After getting to the free-throw line 12 times during the first half, the Hawkeyes picked up their aggressive style of play and ventured to the charity stripe 25 times after intermission. Iowa shot 83.8 percent, going 31-for-37.

“We were told to attack and use screens,” Printy said. “After we attacked them, we just got to the line, and it worked out well for us.”

Junior 6-5 center Amy Jaeschke led Northwestern with 30 points and eight rebounds; she also had three blocks in 36 minutes of action.

Bluder matched up Johnson and freshman Gabby Machado with the Wilmette, Ill., native. When Johnson fouled out with 3:59 left in the game, however, the difficult task was left to Machado.

“Well, I mean, [Jaeschke] has a couple of inches on me,” joked the 6-0 Machado. “I mean, she’s wide. She is a wide body, so that’s tough to get around as well.”

After trailing 54-47 early in the second half, Iowa went on a 7-2 run to get within 56-54.

“The first half, our zone wasn’t very good or maybe it was, and they just hit some good shots,” Bluder said. “They came out on fire. We had to come out of the zone. The second half was much better. I thought we were a little more aggressive. It enabled us to put some extra help around Jaeschke.”

Iowa sophomore Kelly Krei had a strong game despite a slow start, notching 12 points — nine from the free-throw line.

Fouled with 8:55 minutes left in the second half, Krei’s free-throws put the Hawkeyes up 57-56. Iowa did not trail for the rest of the game.

“[Krei] got herself to the free-throw line, and that’s a great mentality,” Bluder said. “You’re not hitting your outside shots, OK, you take it the hole, and that’s what she did.”

The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series against Northwestern, 43-12. The win was the 17th-consecutive victory against the Wildcats.

“I think we’re getting better, and that’s what you want with your team,” Bluder said. “Yes, I wish we could get some of those L’s back, but they’re done, and now we have the opportunity to play some of those people at home.”

Iowa will host Purdue on Jan. 31. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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